In the nightly quest for quality rest, it’s common to focus on factors like comfortable mattresses, low-intensity lighting, and quiet environments. However, there is one crucial element that often goes unnoticed: bedroom air quality.
Recent studies are shedding light on the profound impacts of the air we breathe while sleeping: the quality and length of slumber. In this blog, we dive into the relationship between bedroom air quality and sleep quality, exploring the potential consequences, and offering some practical tips to improve habits.
The role of air quality in sleep quality
During sleep, our bodies undergo essential restorative processes, including tissue repair, hormone regulation, memory consolidation, etc.1 Poor air quality can disrupt these processes and lead to sleep disturbances, leaving people feeling groggy and fatigued the next morning.2 Inadequate ventilation is a significant factor affecting air quality in the bedroom.
When fresh air exchange is limited, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) can increase, leading to higher levels of sleep disturbance, drowsiness, headaches, and decreased cognitive function.3 As such, CO2, measured in parts per million (ppm) has become a commonly used marker for measuring overall indoor air quality.4
CO2 levels and rest quality
In short, higher CO2 levels cause poorer sleep.
Experiments show that keeping CO2 levels below 750 ppm means there is adequate ventilation for proper sleep.5 As levels rise, however, adverse effects become more prominent. These hinderances start becoming noticeable between 750 and 1150 ppm.
From there, unfortunate side effects like irritability and poor sleep quality become more and more prevalent. At above 2600 ppm, research demonstrates that the next-day performance is diminished. A particularly troubling study (with a smaller sample size but equal gender dispersion) found that 3000 ppm and beyond resulted in significantly lower scores on comprehensive questionnaire scores.6
The impact of poor air quality on sleep
Research has uncovered a range of detrimental effects that poor air quality can have on sleep. Pollutant exposure can contribute to the development of sleep apnea, a condition characterized by breathing interruptions during sleep.7 Chemical irritants in the air can also lead to nasal congestion and inflammation, increasing breathing difficulties, snoring, and making it difficult to achieve deep sleep.
Studies have also shown that high levels of indoor air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold spores, dust mites, allergens, etc., can trigger respiratory problems and allergies. Allergens like those listed above can exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms, which can disrupt sleep and reduce its quality. This contamination accumulates in bedding, carpets, upholstery, etc., making thorough cleaning and proper ventilation vital for maintaining a healthy sleep environment.
Our top 10 tips to improve bedroom air quality
Here are several steps you can take to enhance the air quality in your bedroom and promote better sleep:
- Ventilate: Whenever weather conditions permit, open your bedroom windows to allow fresh air to circulate. This can help flush out CO2 and improve ventilation.
- Clean regularly: Vacuuming and dusting your bedroom regularly can help reduce allergens and remove dust mites. Wash your bedding, curtains, and rugs frequently in hot water to eliminate potential irritants.
- Track CO2 levels: Progress almost always starts with measurement. By using an air quality monitor, you’ll be aware of how clean or contaminated sleeping areas are. Empowered by accurate data, it becomes easier to take action and improve conditions.
- Control humidity: Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to regulate moisture levels in your bedroom. Aim for a relative humidity between 30% and 50% to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
- Avoid smoking indoors: Smoking releases harmful chemicals into the air. If you are a smoker, keeping these habits outside will help ensure cleaner air within.
- Choose natural and low-VOC materials: Opt for bedding, furniture, and flooring made from natural materials to reduce the presence of VOCs. Look for products labeled as low-VOC or eco-friendly to minimize the release of harmful chemicals into the air.
- Keep plants in your bedroom: Certain houseplants, such as snake plants, spider plants, and aloe vera, can act as natural air purifiers by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen. Not only do they enhance air quality, but they also add a touch of nature to your sleeping environment.
- Practice good hygiene: Showering before bedtime can help remove pollen, allergens, and pollutants from your skin and hair, preventing them from being transferred to bedding. Additionally, avoid bringing outdoor shoes into the bedroom to minimize the introduction of dirt, pollutants, etc.
- Test and maintain HVAC systems: Regularly inspect and clean your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to ensure optimal performance. Replace filters as recommended and consider professional maintenance to address any potential issues that may affect air quality.
- Consider using an air purifier: Investing in a high-quality air purifier can be beneficial, particularly if you live in an area with high levels of outdoor pollution or suffer from respiratory conditions. Look for purifiers with HEPA filters capable of capturing small particles.
The quality of the air we breathe in our bedrooms plays a significant role in our sleep quality and resulting overall well-being. By taking steps to improve bedroom air quality like those listed above, you can create better sleeping conditions.
A clean, healthy sleeping environment sets the stage for restful nights and rejuvenating mornings. Keep things fresh, wake up feeling refreshed, and go conquer the day ahead.
- What Is the Purpose of Sleep? https://www.healthline.com/health/why-do-we-sleep
- How Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Sleep? https://www.dyson.com/insights/air-quality/how-does-indoor-air-quality-affect-sleep
- Influence of indoor air quality on sleep quality of university students in Lisbon. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1309104221003639
- Using Indoor Air Quality Tactics to Sleep Better at Night, Perform Well the Next Day. https://www.ashrae.org/news/ashraejournal/using-indoor-air-quality-tactics-to-sleep-better-at-night-perform-well-the-next-day
- Study reveals how poor bedroom air quality affects sleep and next-day work performance. https://medicalxpress-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/medicalxpress.com/news/2023-05-reveals-poor-bedroom-air-quality.amp
- Experimental study on sleep quality affected by carbon dioxide concentration. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ina.12748
- How Does Indoor Air Quality Impact Sleep? https://molekule.com/blogs/all/how-does-indoor-air-quality-impact-sleep